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About Crested gecko's and jelly cups

Posted by Kim Bobeldijk at 3/19/2017 6:41:45 PM

Jelly cups and crested geckos
(Taken from my website, 

june 20, 2016
This morning I recieved a message on my Facebook page. It came from someone who had a problem with her crested gecko. The animal's bottom jaw was bent downwards. It was clearly a case of severe rickets, or MBD (Metabolic bone disease). When I came to know what the animal was given to eat, it was obvious what the cause of the problem was. The animal got jelly cups, pure calcium powder and another 'meal' powder of a brand unknown to me. Unfortunately the owner had to decide to put her animal down.
I've been wanting to write a text about jelly cups for a while, but this case definately motivated me to start writing right away.

What is a jelly cup?

Jelly cups are, as the name says, little cups filled with a fruit-flavoured jelly. Originally these cups were developed for beetles, and they were also used as food for crickets and other feeder animals. The high sugar percentage makes it very likeable for a lot of animals. The water in it keeps crickets and other feeder animals alive for a longer time, which makes it look like a convenient snack.

They were also used like a snack, for fruit loving geckos like Madagascar day geckos. The last few years a lot of producers decided to say it's also a great snack/food for crested geckos. Because crested geckos are kept as pets by a lot of people, it's commercially viable to add this to the description of their product.

Why jelly cups are not suitible for crested geckos.
There are multiple reasons why it's a good idea not to feed your crested gecko(s) jelly cups.. First, let's take a look at the ingredients. 

R.O. Water, Sugar, Fructose, Seaweed Extract, Amino Acid, Fruit Juice, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Natural Flavors, 
EU accepted coloring agents depending on flavor type;
(E129) (E102) (E110) (E129) (E133) (E171).

Sugar and fructose are mentioned seperately, so sugar wouldn't be the first, and thereby main ingredient.

The cups don't contain only bad ingredients. Amino acids are good for all animals, but the rest of the ingredients offer nothing good for a gecko. Geckos really like jelly cups because of all the sugar that's added in them. It's almost like giving a kid a piece of candy. By giving a jelly cup to your crested geckos, you load them full of sugar. They will also like the jelly cup more than their regular food, because their regular food doesn't smell and taste as sweet,

Giving jelly cups to a crested gecko is completely unnecessary. The animal isn't gaining anything from it. The best thing to do is to throw away any jelly cups you own, or maybe feed it to your feeder insects. Instead, give your crested gecko(s) a special crested gecko diet and feeder insects (crickets, cockroaches, mealworms, ...)

Special diets for your crested gecko
The crested gecko is one of the first reptiles that people developed a special commercial diet for. Many years they have experimented to make the food contain everything a crested gecko needs. It is even possible to raise a crested gecko and keeping it fully healthy on only this food. Though it is much better to also give them feeder insects.
There are different brands that produce crested gecko diet. A lot of them can easily be ordered through the internet (webshops) and it can also be found at most of the reptile expo's.

A few examples of great crested gecko diet brands are:
* Pangea fruit mix complete
* Repashy: Crested gecko meal replacement powder
* Big fat geckos smoothie mix
* Clarks gecko diet
* Black Panther zoological diet
All these complete diets contain everything a crested gecko needs.

 The effects of poor nutrition
With crested geckos, it's very important that they ingest enough vitamins and minerals. The skeleton of a crested gecko is build kinda weakly, for the weight the bones have to carry. If a crested gecko doesn't get enough calcium or vitamins through their food, calcium will be withdrawn FROM the bones, causing the bones to -literally- become soft. They will slowely bend under the weight of the gecko's body.
The pelvis, back and legbones can bend. Also, the jaw can become so soft from the calcium deficiency that it can break by bumping into a branch or glass, hunting and eating insects or even by eating their regular food. A crested gecko with soft/bent/broken bones will suffer more and more, and will die slowly and painful way.
MBD/rickets can't be reversed. If a gecko suffers from MBD, all you can do is take good care of it, give it the right food and hope it doesn't get worse.

What to do?
The first thing you need to do before you take a new animal friend home, is to read as much as you can about taking care of it! Don't blindly believe everything a pet shop employee or even the breeder says. Their are plenty of caresheets on the internet which explain everything about the care of a crested gecko, or any other kind of pet. You can also ask any of your questions on Facebook-groups for reptile keepers.

Don't give jelly cups to your crested gecko, or give it only as a treat, and not too often.

Feed your crested gecko a complete diet, as previously described, and the best thing is to also feed them live feeder insects.

Do you really want to give your gecko a treat, then give it waxworms (they love it!) or a freshly mashed piece of fruit.
If you have any problems, contact your breeder, or when it's not possible, find another reliable breeder that can help you with your problems.

I hope people can benefit from this story. And hopefully together we can ensure that no crested gecko or any other fruit eating kind of gecko has to suffer from calcium/vitamin deficiency by an insufficent diet anymore. The gecko that passed away today could have lived for 20 years, when cared for correctly from the date it was born. But instead this animal only lived up til the age of 1. The breeder of this gecko caused a lot of hurt and sadness for the gecko's owners by reccomending them to feed this diet and he/she should be ashamed.

(Below: Photo's of the actual gecko with a bent/broken jaw)

 Comments: View Oldest First  

Rachel Gratis,
Posted At: 3/19/2017 7:38:49 PM  

:(  So sad that we still see cases of this in crested geckos when a simple Google search could tell you what brands of food are the best for them.  They are so simple to take care of compared to a lot of other species, but people still manage to botch it... 

Sarah Auzina,
Posted At: 3/20/2017 11:28:35 AM  

Oh dear! I have seen a video of day geckos slurping up one of these, I didn't know what was in it but assumed (wrongly) people would just be using this sort of thing as a treat.

I spent almost a year researching and reading as much as I could find on geckos before purchasing one to ensure proper care, and this makes me so sad for that little gecko. Even a quick read of a decent care sheet would let someone know better than feeding a gecko jell-o.

George H. Wessel VII,
Posted At: 3/20/2017 4:45:57 PM  

Great thread. 

Posted At: 3/22/2017 9:13:03 PM  

Some people have to find out the hard way. It is sad, but true. Imagine what a conversation with a reputable pet owner or even a few clicks of a keyboard could have done. Sadly we have to deal with this kind of stupidity everyday.

- Hail7ey

Kelly Z,
Posted At: 3/29/2017 9:42:19 PM  

This is a great thread. I sure hope you are able to share it everywhere you can. This species is a simple to care for species, but still requires specific care to thrive. I wish sometimes people would be a bit more vigilant with researching before they commit to an animal.

Rebecca ,
Posted At: 4/4/2017 5:18:49 PM  

well written

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